Many of you have questions and concerns about what life at Uni is going to be like in the “new normal”. You can listen to our recent Q&A in collaboration with the Thomas Pocklington Trust, which offers practical advice and support. A downloadable document is also available.
The event was chaired by Tiri Hughes, a 3rd year medical student at Oxford, Chair of the Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign (DisCam) and the Disabilities Officer for Trinity College. Tiri is also visually impaired.
Will Kelly, Access and Outreach Co-Ordinator at University of Winchester, talked through the kinds of measures universities are putting in place to keep everyone safe this Autumn term, and how universities are considering the needs of disabled students in the context of these new safety measures.
A message from Will:
“Hi, I’m Will, an Access and Outreach Co-ordinator from the University of Winchester. I am responsible for organising events and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds to explore and access higher education.
I have been in this sector for over 6 years and work a lot with different universities, charities and local authorities to offer the best support we possibly can for students. I have a passion to ensure that everyone, no matter their background, can achieve whatever they set their mind to and to overcome any barriers that get in the way.
When I was younger I was one of Britain’s best young public speakers, often speaking about the challenges of being hearing impaired in today’s world (did I mention… I am deaf in my right ear and use a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid). Alongside this, I was also a student representative at Northumberland County Council, often attending meetings about the special educational needs provision in the county amongst other things.
At University I studied Theatre Production and was elected twice as Equality and Diversity Officer at my Student Union, a role I was honoured to have, representing all students from all backgrounds.
During this event I hope to be able to answer some of your questions about what to expect when you start or return to university, especially during the current situation we find ourselves in. VI students will have many obstacles to overcome over the next few months as we return to some kind of normal and I would like to help you as much as I can.
Every university will be different in their approach, but by coming together we can start to make sense of what higher education will be like for most people over the coming months.’
A message from Tiri:
“Hi, I’m Tiri and I’m a third-year medical student at the University of Oxford, Trinity College. I’m also the Chair of the Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign (DisCam) as well as being the Disabilities Officer for Trinity College.
I’m visually impaired and have a guide dog, and also have physical disabilities that impair my mobility and affect my general health. I’ve been very involved with disability activism from a young age with lots of VI and disability charities, so it only seemed natural to continue this once I started at university.
DisCam works to campaign for changes that benefit disabled students within the university, as well as in the wider city of Oxford, and we also run events and socials for disabled students such as accessible board game nights.
However, given the current COVID related changes, a lot of what we do will have to change, along with changes that are happening all over the world at higher education institutes. Some of these changes are actually positive for disabled students, like better recording of lectures and online provision of materials, but naturally there is a lot of anxiety about returning to university and how people’s disabilities and individual needs may be affected.
Personally I’m quite worried about how I will manage social distancing with my visual impairment in busy student areas, especially with one-way systems and blockades which aren’t easy to see. I’m hoping that this event will provide a space for VI students to talk about their concerns regarding returning to university, and share ideas about how to best overcome these new challenges.”
You can watch the Q&A by clicking the button below.